February is Black History Month, dedicated to honoring the triumphs and hardships of African Americans throughout history and taking time to intentionally celebrate black culture, art, and music. Last week we dove into a little bit of the history of Black History Month and wrote about different ways that you can intentionally celebrate this month. This week we are going to focus more on the history of Black History Month and highlighting African Americans stories that have gone under the radar but changed the course of history.
In an effort to research and share stories of African American heroes whose stories have often gone untold, we will also highlight a few African American women who are more likely to fly under the radar in an already overlooked part of history. Read more about prominent figures who have been movers and shakers of history in order to fully honor black history.
African American figures who changed history
Althea Gibson was the first recognized African American female athlete. She won multiple American Tennis Association titles in the African American circuit, she was entered into major tournaments, and became the first black player to win Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Open titles. She had many other ceiling breaking accomplishments in her athletic career throughout her life.
Carter G. Woodson
Carter G. Woodson was a Harvard-trained historian and the founder of present-day Black History Month. He spoke out about the inequalities within the education system and the lack of representation of African Americans in U.S. history. Read more about him here!
Jesse E. Moorland
Jesse E. Moorland was a popular black minister and co-founder of the present-day Black History Month. He dedicated his life to creating platforms to honor and promote achievements of Black Americans and history. By doing such things as founding The Study of African American Life and History that was the event that eventually turned into Black History Month present-day.
Barbara Jordan was the first woman to be elected to Texas state senate and the first African American to represent Texas in Congress. She served 3 terms in Congress and then became a professor and policy advocate in her life. You can read more about her impact in government here!
Ella Baker was on the forefront of the Civil Rights movement during the 1940s. She was a strong advocate to include young people in the fight for equal rights, laying the ground work for one of the most influential organizations, SNCC, and advocating for black women’s rights. Ella Baker not only challenged policies but she changed them. Much of her policy influence can be seen in her emphasis of equal voting rights for African Americans.
Shirly Chisholm was the only black female in Congress during the Civil Rights movement and was a strong advocate for both race and gender equality. Chisholm pushed legislation for those living on the margins of society and dedicated her life to creating laws that improved quality of life. She was incredibly impactful in fighting for improved education and providing more of a chance for disadvantaged students to receive the education they deserve. Chisholm was faced with barriers of race and gender while pushing legislation and spoke out about these challenges.
Frederick Douglas and his impact in history is often talked about in history books and lectures. But it is fitting to mention such a transformational person in the way that African Americans are viewed in American culture. Douglas was born into slavery and eventually escaped to become a prominent figure in abolishing slavery. His life’s legacy challenged the oppression and bondage of black people and still lives on today as a core of American history. Read more about his legacy here!
Take time to learn
Black History Month is a time to recognize and honor African American history. These historical figures made history altering contributions yet their stories often go untold. We are dedicated to learning, changing and giving honor where honor is due. Happy Black History Month!
Your challenge: research 3 African American historical figures with stories similar to the ones above!